205

Globe Unity: Japan

Tom Greenland By

Sign in to view read count








Akira Sakata

Friendly Pants

Columbia-Family Vineyard

2009


Itaru Oki

Phantom Note

Record Label #2

Year


The Miyumi Project

Live in Poland

Southport

2009


Japanese culture has historically championed jazz and, not surprisingly, produced some champions of its own. Recent releases by Akira Sakata, Itaru Oki and Tatsu Aoki (a 30-year Chicago resident) document the work of three youthful veterans.

Friendly Pants, alto saxophonist Akira Sakata's first US release in over two decades, teams him up with the irrepressible energy of bassist Darin Gray and drummer Chris Corsano (aka Chikamorachi) for a ferocious blast of skronk'n'roll. Recalling the sound and fury of mid- to late-period Coltrane, mixed with a sweet, subtle lyricism, the tracks build from gentle ballad overtures, featuring a light, centered alto sound edged with delicate glissandos, to high-tension modal workouts in the altissimo register, Sakata never losing his poise or train of thought, even as his tone veers towards a hoarse-throated cry. Gray and Corsano seem to be working out the same ideas, the bass throbbing in lockstep with the kick-drum accents, providing a unified propulsive cushion for the alto to float over.

Phantom Note is a rerelease of trumpeter Itaru Oki's 1975 date featuring a crack team made up of alto saxophonist Yoshiaki Fujikawa, bassist Keiki Midorikawa and drummer Hozumi Tanaka. Oki's sound and concept echo ESP-era Miles Davis, with short, mostly unison melodies based on intervallic blocks segueing into highly chromatic, non-idiomatic solos and aggressive group interaction. Oki is both post-bop and postmodern, coloring his sound with trills and light wah-wah effects and is particularly impressive on "Smily Nanri-san," a six-and-a-half-minute soliloquy that maintains interest and momentum through accelerating phrases, graceful legato ornaments and an ultra-tasteful "squeeze" up to the final note. Fujikawa's alto slips and slides, injecting manic screeches unexpectedly and providing supple counterpoint to Oki's trumpet. Midorikawa adds interesting texture and color with his choice cello work on "The Cats of Rue Saint Denis," "Escargot" and "Kodai-tenmondai," the last including a spoken-work cameo by Gozo Yoshimasu. Tanaka displays a vivid imagination on "Cats" and "Kodai," peppering his percussion with gongs, bells and other metallophones, varying hits across his kit.

The Miyumi Project's Live in Poland, led by bassist Tatsu Aoki, with three Taiko drummers and a frontline of baritone and soprano saxophones plus violin, is a genre-bending combination of hypnotic beats, repetitive bass-lines and chatty, minimalist solos. The groove on these extended jams doesn't move forward, it hunkers down, with simple, layered parts that interweave like an African drum-song or the pulsing of a seven-chambered heart.

Tracks and Personnel



Friendly Pants

Tracks: Friendly Pants; Un; In case,Let's go to Galaxy; That day of rain; With Saigyo parh; Yo Yo Dime.

Personnel: Akira Sakata: alto sax; Darin Gray: bass; Chris Corsano: drums.



Phantom Note

Tracks: A Black Iron Cat Mask; The Cats of Rue Saint Denis; Escargot; Smily Nanri-san; Kodai-tenmondai—Ancient Observatory; Caesar and Capone.

Personnel: Itaru Oki: trumpet; Yoshiaki Fujikawa: alto sax; Keiki Midorikawa: cello, bass, piano; Gozo Yoshimasu: poetry.



Live in Poland

Tracks: NOW; Episode One (from re:ROOTED); Episode Four; Lacquer.

Personnel: Mwata Bowden: reeds; Francis Wong: soprano sax; Jonathan Chen: violin; Hide Yoshihashi, Amy Homma, Melody Takata: Taiko drums; Tatsu Aoki: bass.

Tags

comments powered by Disqus

More Articles

Read Real World Records' Vinyl Reissues Multiple Reviews Real World Records' Vinyl Reissues
by Nenad Georgievski
Published: September 16, 2017
Read The Narell Brothers: Steelpan Music Merchants Multiple Reviews The Narell Brothers: Steelpan Music Merchants
by Nigel Campbell
Published: September 9, 2017
Read Emanem Releases New Music From Late, Great Heroes Lacy And Rutherford Multiple Reviews Emanem Releases New Music From Late, Great Heroes Lacy And...
by John Eyles
Published: September 8, 2017
Read Of Stories, Songs, and Self: Fred Hersch's Good Things Happen Slowly & Open Book Multiple Reviews Of Stories, Songs, and Self: Fred Hersch's Good Things...
by Dan Bilawsky
Published: August 21, 2017
Read The Art (de Vivre) of the Trio Multiple Reviews The Art (de Vivre) of the Trio
by Geno Thackara
Published: August 12, 2017
Read Sven-Åke Johansson's Blue For A Moment Multiple Reviews Sven-Åke Johansson's Blue For A Moment
by Mark Corroto
Published: August 2, 2017
Read "Green Mountain Jazz" Multiple Reviews Green Mountain Jazz
by Doug Collette
Published: July 24, 2017
Read "Badbadnotgood Is Truly Goodgoodnotbad" Multiple Reviews Badbadnotgood Is Truly Goodgoodnotbad
by Dave Wayne
Published: December 20, 2016
Read "Margrete Grarup: Denmark's jazz secret is out" Multiple Reviews Margrete Grarup: Denmark's jazz secret is out
by Chris Mosey
Published: May 28, 2017
Read "New, Notable and Nearly Missed" Multiple Reviews New, Notable and Nearly Missed
by Phil Barnes
Published: January 25, 2017
Read "Blues Deluxe 2" Multiple Reviews Blues Deluxe 2
by Doug Collette
Published: June 25, 2017
Read "Blues Deluxe: Colin James, Matthew Curry and Johnny Nicholas" Multiple Reviews Blues Deluxe: Colin James, Matthew Curry and Johnny Nicholas
by Doug Collette
Published: January 14, 2017

Join the staff. Writers Wanted!

Develop a column, write album reviews, cover live shows, or conduct interviews.